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Monday, April 29, 2013

Owning Social Media in the Enterprise and Beyond

Who owns an employee social media account?  In an excellent blog post Debbie Laskey brings up an excellent question that leads me to a number of related questions.  Some years ago our enterprise talked to IBM about how they were developing 'social' methods to improve communications within their company.   Their method took it beyond the organization white pages we had computerized as documents to be searched to find fellow employees with similar ideas and address skill needs.  We had developed an in house advanced email and collaboration system called Confer in the late 1970s, so you could communicate with people, but it was still difficult to find the right people outside of our own network.

At that time Twitter was mostly being made fun of, but we were experimenting with social media like blogs and Wikis, but had not thought about how to tie that all together into the structure of the organization.    Everyone agreed that Email should be informal, but it was usually not so.  When we tried to include personal and informal communications, it was criticized by some as wasting time.

So there was a big surprise when social media like Twitter took off.  It was a new kind of communication;  short and mostly to the point.  It was akin to the 'one page memo', in that it sought  to be as concise as possible.   But often did not include all the points that needed to be made in communication.

We were also surprised when the social media extended over the border of the enterprise and directly to the consumer.  This was unheard of.  There were several issues that did come up based on bridging this frontier.  There was no plan to manage it at first.  People started communicating internally, with suppliers and even directly with consumers.  As Debbie suggests, there should be a plan, even in an informal world.   Who are the stakeholders, who owns the communications, and what do we when communications create problems?  Here I would further recommend Paul Gillins's book: Attack of the Customers ...  for anticipating and answering issues that extend beyond the borders of the organization.  This is even more important for the small and medium sized company.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

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